Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ohpensa 2014/2557

One sunny, clear, crisp day there was a light breeze in the air that reminded me of something. I’d lived this day many times before – not in a previous lifetime, but this one. It was the first day of the fall season. When it arrives, there’s no calendar to tell you the date. You just feel it and know it.

Of course, there are the indicators: clear sky when usually it’s hazy, cloudy, overcast or air polluted. Then, there’s more air movement than normal – not cold or even cool, just moving, which, of course, relates to the clear skies. Crisp, yes, that’s the first day of fall.

The fall season is a busy time for us. Well, “busy” may be overstating it. We’re more active with other things in addition to the routine daily stuff is what I mean.

First, there is the Thai Buddhist observance of Ohpensa, marking the end of the three month “Buddhist Lent” (Vassa).

This year’s Ohpensa was quite a memorable one for me. I’ve been trying to limit my attendance at Buddhist ceremonies – much to the disappointment of my wife. It’s just that there are so many. 

So, I did not attend the evening Ohpensa ceremonies. Instead, I went out to our 9 rai rice farm, across the road from the temple to watch the full lunar eclipse of a "blood moon." Our farmhouse (Bann Nah) stood start and empty, suffering from a work stoppage, as I sat down on an outdoor bamboo bed to watch the show. I could see the lit-up hall of our temple from across the rice fields a quarter of a mile away.

I was in luck, as the skies were crystal clear. Not only that, but many temples around the area were lighting off sky lanterns. Far and wide, I could see literally hundreds of them rise up into the sky from various points along 360 degrees – all around! With the eclipsing moon, they made quite a sight.

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